Heartbeat International celebrated four women for their servant leadership at its 2022 Annual Pregnancy Help Conference on Thursday.
The Servant Leader Award honors those who, in the example of Christ, lead and serve concurrently.
This year’s honorees were Sylvia Johnson, Pam Stenzel, Jeanneane Maxon, and Melissa Heiland.
“A servant leader is someone who has given themselves sacrificially in the service of life as both servants of others and leaders in their own right,” said Betty McDowell, vice president of ministry services for Heartbeat.
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Johnson is Chief Executive Officer of Houston Pregnancy Help Center, with three locations in the Houston area, along with two mobile medical vans. She has been a pregnancy help center director for 35 years, opening five pregnancy centers and helping to open two others. The centers provide services to more than 10,000 clients each year. Johnson implemented medical at her centers. She has the moniker of, “The Encourager,” is known for her visioning and her love of people and God.
Heiland is a wife and mother of six with a master’s degree in Education. She has been involved with pregnancy help ministry since 1994, and serves as he is active, where she serves as director of Client Services at a Central Florida pregnancy center. Heiland also founded Beautiful Feet International, a mission organization that helps churches plan and prepare for volunteer missions worldwide. She is the author of Get Set, a devotional for volunteers in mission work.
Maxon is an attorney with 10 years of executive level non-profit leadership, d serves as a non-profit law and compliance consultant based in Dallas, Texas. Her clients are primarily pro-life entities. She is a nationally recognized speaker and pro-life advocate. Maxon was diagnosed with Grade IV Glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer in 2016 and her battle with cancer was featured on the Lifetime Television series, “Behind the Mystery.”
Stenzel is the founder of Enlighten Communications, addressing the issues of sex and the challenge for young people to make the healthy choices with the goal of saving sex for marriage. She has traveled internationally, speaking to more than 500,000 young people each year about sexuality and the importance of abstinence. Her videos have been viewed by millions across the world. Stenzel also conducts seminars with parents and educators on the issues of teen sex and the vital nature of character building in a child’s upbringing.
Servant Leader Awardees do not know that they will receive the award and are surprised with presentation on stage at the Heartbeat Conference.
In this case the four women were brought onto the stage with the understanding they would be helping with a skit related the Conference theme.
They were moved by the honor.
“I am humbled and honored to follow in the steps of many others who paved a way for myself and others to carry on the valuable work to save women and children in the womb from the destruction of abortion,” Maxon told Pregnancy Help News.
“I am grateful to Christ for giving me the opportunity to serve this worthy movement,” she said, “and to my family, friends, and colleagues who have supported me.”
“I am praising God for the amazing work I see Heartbeat International and every one of its affiliates doing to champion life,” she added. “I pray God allows me many more years to serve this community that has served me so well.”
“I was shocked,” Stenzel said. “I had no idea.”
“But it was a true honor and the whole Conference has been encouraging,” she said, “hearing from people who have shared how my ministry has impacted their lives, from the time they were teens to working in the movement”
“Most times we don't see the fruit of our labor, we just try to be faithful,” said Stenzel. “Times like these give you a glimpse of the difference you are making and spurs you onward!!”
Heiland was taken aback as well.
“Oh my! I am shocked and humbled!” she told Pregnancy Help News. “Thank you so much.”
“The Lord has been so gracious to me, Heiland continued. “He is the One who does all of the work, but He loves me so much He lets me tag along and watch Him work. I am so thankful to Heartbeat International for all you do protect life. God bless you!”
Johnson told Pregnancy Help News she was humbled to be considered for the award alongside the previous awardees, and she expressed gratitude.
"I’m still in awe of being chosen to receive the award," Johnson said.
"When I read the list of previous “Servant Leaders” award recipients, all whom are considered pro-life trailblazers who demonstrated their commitment to our Lord and our mission to serve," she said. "I’m grateful and humbled to have the honor of receiving this prestigious award."
"I’m grateful for the entire Heartbeat International staff," she said, "who demonstrates everyday how to be the ultimate “Servant Leaders” as over 3000 life-affirming affiliates seek encouragement and guidance in our local leadership roles."
"I would like to thank those who mentored me, supported me, prayed for me, inspired me, encouraged me," Johnson added, "and demonstrated to me how to become a “Servant Leader.”
Heartbeat International’s Annual Conference ran from Mar. 30-Apr. 1.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated.